Sephardi school girl crying 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy Noar KaHalacha)
The Jerusalem City Council’s Finance Committee has decided to freeze NIS 10
million in funds for the haredi girls school Darkei Rachel until it agrees to
accept four Sephardi girls who have been refused entry since the beginning of
the academic year.
Many Ashkenazi haredi girls schools allegedly operate
unofficial quotas for Sephardi pupils, requiring that they not exceed 30 percent
of a school’s annual student intake.
The decision taken on Sunday night
conditions the transfer of the funds on the acceptance of the girls as pupils at
According to the Noar Kahalacha advocacy group, data and
documents it has collected demonstrate that a de facto 30% quota for Sephardi
girls exists in many haredi high schools, particularly in the most prestigious
schools in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Betar Illit and Modi’in Illit.
councillor Asher Mishaeli (Shas), who led the fight for the girls in question,
emphasized the need to fight such discrimination, although he said he believed
the problem was gradually being tackled.
“The finance committee has put
an end to this situation where four girls have been sitting at home because of
discriminatory practices,” Mishaeli said, adding that such policies were backed
by rabbis from the haredi community.
Yoav Laloum, director of Noar
Kehalacha, welcomed the stance taken by Mishaeli and the municipality, but said
that the fact remains that in the best Ashkenazi schools, the quotas remain in
At the beginning of the academic year, approximately 30 girls in
Jerusalem had not been enrolled in any school because of discriminatory
policies, while Education Ministry figures showed that 393 students, mostly
Sephardi, had not been accepted into Ashkenazi-majority schools in Jerusalem,
Bnei Brak, Beitar Illit, Modi’in Illit and Elad.
The issue of
discrimination against Sephardi schoolgirls caused a political and social storm
in 2009, when the High Court of Justice ordered an Ashkenazi school in the
haredi settlement of Emmanuel to cease all practices separating Ashkenazi and